Thursday, December 4, 2008

Stay-At-Home-Mothering and Lunches

Been a while since my last post. I'm now an official stay-at-home mom (although I do some freelancing on the side and am an Independent Distributor for Moxxor, which is a VERY potent omega-3 and antioxidant supplement - check out

I love that I can control what my kids are eating during the day. While they were at daycare, I know that they were given snacks that wouldn't make my 'approval' list at all.

However, I'm not as creative as I'd like to be and am constantly trying to figure out what I want to feed my kids. Personally, I would love to become a vegetarian, so I've been avoiding chicken (already don't eat red meat, pork) somewhat. However, chicken is such a staple and a meal-rounder that it's hard to avoid.

Kids had grilled cheese with raisins today. I've been reading about the many wonderful healing properties of coconut oil, so I'm replacing butter and other oils with coconut oil. It's really good on a grilled cheese. Bodin likes to open up his sandwich and
stick the raisins inside, which makes it taste sort of like cinnamon bread. Reese did the same, but only because she likes to copy her brother.

Snow and winter are miserable; I can't wait for next summer. The kids will be a little older and easier to get out and about with. I want to visit farmer's markets to get them to try new fruits and veggies often. I'm always open to kid-friendly veggie/healthy recipes. My awesome aunt got me a subscription to Vegetarian Times last year and I'm going to sit down with all of my back issues and go through the recipes that I think they would like. Tough sell is going to be Justin. :)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Mad dashes and coconuts

This mothering gig is HARD! This past week (and upcoming week also) was a difficult one, work-wise. Lots of travel. Next week, I'm on the road every day, traveling at least an hour one way. Makes for long days. Last night, after making dinner for the kids (reheated homemade pizza), I completely forgot about making their lunches and it was a mad scramble in the morning to pull something together. Betcha can't guess what they got for lunch today! Yep, PIZZA!

Along with that, they each got a baggie of black, seedless grapes and a banana.

Prior to dinner last night, I decided to introduce the kids to an actual coconut. I got out a Phillip's head screwdriver and the hammer and took the kids outside in the grass. Bodin helped me pound three holes into the top of it, and I poured the milk into two cups. Bodin tried it and didn't like it. Reese tried hers and liked it. I gave her a refill and she dumped it all over my lap. Coconut milk is sticky!!

Here's a picture of our coconut.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The First Tomato

Finally! My evergreen tomatos are finally starting to come over to the "red" side. My first red tomato has finally ripened on the vine. I was starting to get worried that I would have to scour the Internet for "Fried Green Tomato" recipes.

I was so excited that I had to take a picture of it

Mini Taco Bowls

This is a dinner that I threw together when I couldn't come up with anything interesting for the kids.

I cooked up 1lb of ground turkey meat with a taco seasoning packet.

Then, I filled up about a dozen Baked Tostitos chips with the taco meat, cheese, little bit of romaine lettuce and a touch of salsa.

Big hit, simple meal!

Friday, August 1, 2008

The 'Whatever' Smoothie

Bodin now requests smoothies, which makes me SO happy. Here's one that I've made him and Reese in the past.

1c water
1/2c red grapes
1 scoop rice powder
1c fruit, regular or frozen (strawberries, bananas are our faves)
1c fresh spinach
1 scoop of 'greens' (health food store)
1T agave nectar (health food store, and (surprisingly) Meijer, in the spice aisle)
1-2T coconut oil (health food store). Add this after everything else is blended, and then pulse for 10 seconds or so. It hardens under a certain temp (in the 70s), which makes it hard to blend.
2T cacao nibs (health food store). Add these after the coconut oil, and pulse *maybe* one or two times. Chunks are good.


I have a BlendTec blender, with a 2hp motor, so my blender can "juice" this entire blend with no problem. You may need to blend at earlier parts in the recipe to get everything mixed together.

Also, these amounts are my best estimate. Add more or less depending on taste. Rice milk can be subbed for the water...obviously you can use whatever fruits you prefer. Kale can be subbed for spinach. This is truly a Whatever Smoothie, and you can make it what you want. The more you make them, the more you learn what works and what doesn't. Just remember to drink your mistakes, there's still a LOT of nutrition in them.

Combo post

Justin and I are going to the Neil Diamond concert tonight at Van Andel. I'm somewhat ashamed to say that this will be my SECOND time seeing Neil in concert. First time I won tickets off the radio, this time we're forking over our own money to watch him. Either way, it'll be a good time. Kids are doing a double overnight with the grandparents. I think they're pretty excited (both the kids AND the grandparents).

So, since I've missed I-don't-know-how-many days, I'll post items from their last two lunches:

*Ricotta and sun dried tomato stuffed chicken breast.

This was from Fresh Market and it was really good. They had it for dinner last night and it went into their lunches today.

*Fruit salad: apples, grapes, blueberries

I strongly recommend getting Rubbermaid's produce saver; the green-topped ones. It works amazingly well.

*YoKids yogurt "tubes"

*Cashew butter and strawberry preserves sandwich on whole grain bread

*HonestKids juice pouch

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Meal That Keeps On Giving

I went to a neat little store yesterday called Making Thyme Kitchen. It's located on Cherry Street in Grand Rapids. It a little store that prepares ready-to-cook meals that are available to pick up, take home and pop into the oven (or microwave, or stovetop). Last night I picked up Mexican lasagna, quinoa fruit salad and mashed sweet potatos for the kids' dinner. Quite an ecclectic mix, I know.

The Mexican lasagna and sweet potatos didn't go over well with either kid, but I think that's because Bodin knew he was going to get to drive his new car after dinner and just wanted the whole ordeal to be over with. They both ate the quinoa fruit salad and really loved it. It contained quinoa, pecans, dried cherries/apricots, orange juice, and other stuff that I can't remember.

So, because I've read that you need to present a food 10 times to a child to get them to like it, they got that meal in their lunches for Friday, along with a baggie of red grapes.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Pizza, pizza!

My husband came home last night from a two-night work trip and the kids were really excited to see him. Bodin wanted to play with his new sprinkler and then wanted to play with his Spiderman slip 'n slide. As they played, I made dinner and lunch for the kids.

Here's what they had in Thursday's lunch:

*Pizza wrap: Sun-dried tomato wrap (from Sister's Natural Foods in Byron Center), mozzarealla, organic tomato sauce and turkey pepperoni (Hormel. Yes, it has sodium nitrate). I heated the wrap in a saute pan with a little bit of coconut oil. Then I added the rest of the ingredients, let the cheese melt and then wrapped it up and slice it in half.

*Broccoli (again, from Sister's Natural Foods in Byron Center) satueed in coconut oil and celtic sea salt.

*YoKids yogurt tube, strawberry

*Cashew rice treat for Bodin and an organic breakfast bar for Reese.

*HonestKids juice box for Bodin. Reese gets organic milk (Stoneyfarm) at school.

Mmmm, now I'm hungry!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Day late, but worth the wait ...

This past weekend was a busy one!! On Thursday, our neighborhood association put on some decent fireworks, so we kept the kids up straight through their bedtimes to watch the fireworks. Bodin ended up being a wiggly worm throughout the whole show and Reese turned into a zombie. It was still fun, though, sitting out on our deck watching the fireworks. Holidays are so much more fun with kids.

On Friday, we took Bodin to see his first movie, Wall-E. He did really good, didn't talk out loud a whole lot. But he also asked if we could go home near the movie's end. I think it was just a tad too long for him.

Sunday was Bodin's birthday; my baby boy turned three! Can't believe it. Justin and I got him a power wheels car that ended up not working the morning we gave it to him. It's currently in the shop (i.e., at Toys R Us) for repairs. I'm sure there's a life lesson in there about owning your own vehicle, but I'm just ticked that he couldn't drive it on his birthday morning. We'll get it tomorrow.

So, thanks to my mom and the birthday party she had for Bodin at her house, we scored some leftovers. Here's what was in their lunches for Monday:

*Turkey hot dog

*Mandarin oranges

*RiceWorks chips

These are from Costco and are SO good, especially with hummus

*Bag of carrots

Thursday, July 3, 2008

It's almost the weekend!

We bought Bodin and Reese a sandbox/picnic table combo the other weekend. It was one purchase I didn't think all the way through; along with their mac 'n cheese (organic), they also consumed sand and grit. Didn't seem to bother them, though.

For today's lunch:

*Brown basmati rice, chicken, pine nuts, pesto and parmesan

This is way easier to make than you think. I bought a rice cooker from Meijer that cooks rice/pasta in the microwave. I make a large batch and it lasts for a few days in the fridge. Chicken is from a rotisserie chicken from Costco, along with pre-made Pesto (Kirkland, from Costco), pine nuts and parmesan.

*YoKids yogurt

From Stonyfield, organic

*Baggie of grapes

*HonestKids juice

Thanks again Aunt Ellen!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Friday's feast!

I did not feel well all day Thursday, and after dragging myself through the workday, the thought of making a dinner for everyone just exhausted me. I hadn't been grocery shopping in a week and there was nothing in the house. I stopped by a place called AliKat Kitchen on my way home from picking up the kids. They have ready-made meals that you cook when you get home. I chose chicken fajitas, which came with marinated raw chicken and veggies, tortillas, cinnamon carrots and a frozen veggie medley. I tossed the chicken a veggies in a stir fry pan, and the carrots in the microwave, and 30 minutes later, dinner was ready. Both kids gobbled it right up.

So, of course, they each got a chicken fajita in their lunch the next day.

That, along with:

*Cashews and dried papaya

*Organic applesauce


I'm really glad it's the weekend!

Thursday, June 26, 2008


I was wondering when this was going to happen ... I haven't posted all week about my kids' lunches. We dealt with some possible food poisoning this weekend, and I haven't felt right all week. I still managed to pack a lunch for school, though.

Here's a list of what they've eaten over the past few days. I can't remember it all, so I'll add to this as I think of it:

*Peanut butter (organic) and preserves (organic) sandwich

*Organic cashews with diced dried papaya

These two items are yummy together!



*Homemade lasagna (thanks Mom!)

*HonestKids juice

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Leave the dish towels alone!

My sweet daughter does this thing that drives my absolutely batty. Whenever she gets bored, pissy or mad that I won't/can't pick her up, she'll take the dish towels that I conveniently hang over the handle of the oven and toss them methodically onto the floor, one by one. It's so frustrating!! It's gotten to the point where I won't hang them up anyone, and resort to using paper towels. Then guilt over the wasted paper towels takes over and I'll hang a couple more towels up. It's one of the insignificant and endearing things I will remember about Reese when she grows up.

I forgot to make the kids' lunch one night after my husband and I finished our dinner. In the morning, it was a mad scramble to pull something together. I can't remember what day it was. I was thankful that I had some pre-bagged and pre-packaged things around the house to throw in their lunch boxes. This is a hard gig, but I'm proud to have it.

Wednesday, the kids went to my mom's house, so no lunch that day. On Thursday they had:

*Chicken and turkey sandwich on whole grain bread

You can see the nuts in the bread, it's so yummy!

*Mandarin oranges

*Dill and cilantro roasted potatos

I finally used some herbs from my garden and sauteed some organic potatos in some olive oil and served it up to the kids for dinner Wednesday night. Add some ketchup and they gobbled them right up. Leftovers went into their lunches.

*Baggie full of grapes and blueberries

Monday, June 16, 2008

A 5k, Chinese Food, and Sunburn

For me, this past weekend started out with a 5k race, the Brian Diemer Classic in Cutlerville. It's my seventh 5k (I think) since I took up running in April 2007. I ran my first 25k in May of this year, and thought that 5ks would be cake after that. But, after my big race, my running tapered off. I'm working to correct that. Running makes me feel so great, especially mentally. I can't tell you how great of a mood I was in for the rest of the day on Saturday.

Sunday, Father's Day, the kids and I went over to my mom and stepdad's house while the guys played golf. We got Chinese food from THE best Chinese restaurant ever - Abacus - and ordered Mongolian chicken. Nothing comes close to the flavors of this dish. I'm sure it's terrible for me, but it's a once-in-a-while treat. We also took a pontoon boat trip. I got sunburned during the kids' nap. I laid down on a chair and drank wine and read US Weekly, In Touch ... I suppose it was bad karma.

In Monday's lunch they got:

*Chicken pesto pasta

Penne noodles, basil pesto, pine nuts, parmesan, black pepper.

*Baggie full of grapes


In Tuesday's lunch they got:

*Spinach/artichoke bites

*String cheese

*Carrots/dip thingy

*Baggie of grapes and blueberries

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Top Chef I am not

I love the Bravo channel's Top Chef. I would love to hire any TC reject (except for Lisa) to cook for my family for a month. That's been my fantsay for a while. I would love to hire a personal chef to grocery shop, meal plan, and cook for my family. Forever. I have been entertaining the thought of going vegetarian for a while, and I think it would be tough doing it on my own. But I don't know if I have it in me. My dear husband would balk at the idea, and possibly laugh and display his signature sigh and eye roll. (I start out a lot of sentences with "So. Today I read on the Internet that [insert any new non-mainstream health discovery]."

I'm a grazer. I eat all day long - literally. I'll eat breakfast at 7 a.m. on the way to my kids' daycare; usually an all-natural bar of some sort. Snack at 10:30ish. Lunch at noon. Snack at 3 p.m. and dinner around 8 p.m. I'll sneak a few nibbles of my kids' dinners if I'm hungry. Lately, though, the quality of my snacks have been abysmal (and not in the Joey Tribbiani way). I'm still eating like a 25k trainer, which I no longer am. I used to run 12-14 miles on Saturday mornings, and run at least 10 miles during the week. Ever since my May 10 25k, I've ran four times. Bleech. I'm soft, flabby, bloated ... NOT fun. Time to get back on track.

Ok, for Thursday's lunches I packed:

*Thai noodles with chicken

This was leftovers from dinner with my mom and stepdad. Whenever my husband is out of town, I mooch over to their house to try and feed everyone. Thanks Mom! Love ya!

*Organic sugar snap peas

*Mandarin oranges

*Meijer organic yogurt

*String cheese

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Finally the sun comes out!

Man, what a dreary and depressing past few days, weather-wise. I'm finally connecting cloudy days to my complete lack of motivation. This rain has been killing me, not to mention my newborn patio garden. My plants are soaked to the root; I hope they survive. I planted tomatos, cilantro, sage, dill, basil, lavender, and a few perennials. I'm planning on planting some peas tonight. The kids are fascinated with it. I can't wait to eat from our own garden! Reese currently eats from our garden (she shovels fistfulls of soil into her mouth when we're not looking), so I'm hoping to show her that real food will come out of these pots of dirt and leaves.

Today, the kids got:

*Bean/cheese burrito for Bodin

*Spinach artichoke bites for Reese

*Baggie full of grapes

*Carrots/ranch dip thingy for Bodin

*Brown rice krispies treats (Glenny's).

I tried one (ok, TWO!) of these myself and they're really good. All organic and made from brown rice. No funky hfcs or artificial preservatives.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Detoxing from the weekend

On Saturday, we celebrated my husband's birthday with his family. The kids got cupcakes, ice cream, and Rice Krispies treats, and the adults got strawberry cheesecake (and ice cream, too!). Then on Sunday, the kids and I went over to my mom and step dad's house while the guys golfed. Lunch for them was a whole wheat tortilla with melted cheese, bananas, raisins and Sun Chips, and a dessert that I'm not remembering somehow. I think it was used as a bribe to get the kids to do something. I'm not above that.

To top it all off my husband and I got Maggie Moo's ice cream last night (ice cream and organic yogurt being my only dairy exceptions), so I'm suffering from a severe ice cream hangover. Lunch today for me was an organic baby greens salad with: 1/2 avocado, sugar snap peas, red grapes, organic vinaigrette dressing, and organic croutons. I'm going to see if my kids will enjoy this concoction tonight with dinner.

In their lunches were:

*Bean/cheese burrito for my son

The natural ones from Costco.

*Spinach/artichoke bites (Morningstar) for Reese.

*Baggie full of red grapes

*Carrots/ranch dressing thingy for Bodin.

I went to a health food store and bought some organic cereal bars and, believe it or not, BROWN rice krispies treats. I'll test these out later this week. I also bought some organic cashews and will be grinding up some cashew butter later this week. I've never bought organic cashews before.

So much fun!

Friday, June 6, 2008

I lucked out!

Wednesday evening, I picked up my kids from my mom's house - she watches them on Wednesdays. For lunch, she made the kids this stuffed chicken parm with spaghetti noodles, and sent home the leftovers for me to use in their lunches on Thursday. Score! LOVE IT when that happens.

Here's Thursday's lunch:

*Stuffed parm chicken with spaghetti

*Mandarin oranges for Reese and a carrot/dip thingy for Bodin

*Organic animal crackers

I got a ginormous tub of these from Costco. It lasts forever and it a great snack for many occasions. One time, I melted down some chocolate chips and let Bodin dip the back of a few cookies. Let them sit in the fridge for a few hours, and you have a fun, homemade 'dessert' that's fun to make and eat.

I found out Reese refused the cheese/bean burrito that I sent with her earlier this week. Time to come up with new main courses. Since I was short on time and inspiration, they got a repeat from earlier this week.

Friday's grub:

*Cashew butter and strawberry preserves sandwich

*Organic applesauce for Reese and a carrot/dip thingy for Bodin


I'm glad it's the weekend!! I'm going to try and pre-make some lunches that I can freeze 'n grab.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Did he really just call me "ma'am?"

Oh lord, I'm getting old. I remember being 18 and thinking that 30 was more mid-life than prime-of-life. It was impossible to be cool at that age, and now here I am at age 30. I feel young(ish) on most days, and I look now at high school students and think they seem impossibly young.

As I was leaving the grocery store yesterday, two kids dressed in grungy clothes and stylishly dirty hair approached me with, "ma'am? do you know what time it is?" I checked out my BlackBerry (way cool) and told them. But as I started walking to my car, I realized that I'd been "ma'am'ed." What gave it away? My in-between hairstyle (can't decide to grow it out or cut it short) or the faint crow's feet around my eyes when I squint. Or was it the grocery cart full of "family food" items like two gallons of organic milk or the clear plastic produce bags sticking out of my re-usable grocery bags?

Either way, I'm still trying to figure out if ma'am suits me. I don't feel old enough yet.

For lunch yesterday, the kids got a repeat of Friday's lunch. After my grocery store trip, they got a new selection:

*One all-natural bean/cheese burrito. I can't remember the brand, but it's from Costco and didn't have any red flag ingredients in it.

These need to be nuked. Deep down inside, I don't think microwaves are the safest appliance, but I still use one. My husband would flip if I dissed the microwave. Baby steps.

*YoKids yogurt for my daughter

My daughter really likes to feed herself, so I thought I'd let her daycare teacher deal with the mess on this one. :)

*Organic carrot/ranch dip packet for my son.

Instead of cheese 'n crackers in a plastic tub, picture the same packaging only with healthy carrots and "dip-dip," as my son calls it.

*Baggie full of red grapes

Both my kids love these and gobble them up like candy.

Friday, May 30, 2008

More information on school lunches

Here's an article I wrote for on the state of school lunches and why they're so bad. My hope it to one day soon get involved with my kids' school and help them work toward offering more healthy choices.

School Lunch in the Era of Processed Food: To Buy or Not to Buy?

(NaturalNews) This should not even be a question for most parents. But, unfortunately it is. When asked what she thought of the school lunch program in public schools, Camele McIntosh, certified holistic health practitioner and store manager for Harvest Health Foods in Grand Rapids, Michigan, responded, "Disgusting. It's absolutely disgusting."

She packs a lunch full of organic foods for her children on a daily basis and sees the decline of the school lunch program as the result of a lack of caring on the part of a large portion of American people.

"Nobody cares anymore, nobody respects the organic farmer. They think it's best to buy cheaper products to save money, but in the end, those products rob us of our health and cost us even more money," she said.

In 2006, more than 30.1 million children consumed a hot lunch each day under the National School Lunch Program, according to the USDA's Web site. Although all food served under this program meets Federal nutrition requirements, decisions about what foods are served and how they are prepared is decided upon by local schools.

Ann Cooper, known as the Renegade Lunch Lady and author of the new book "Lunch Lessons: Changing the way we feed our children," said the current state of school lunches across the country is probably even worse than most people think.

"It's all frozen, processed foods," she said. "Google any school district in the country and you'll find menus filled with pizza pockets, corn dogs, chicken nuggets."

Originally, all of the food served in public schools was homemade and cooked on site. By the time frozen foods became more prevalent, it was time for all of the lunch ladies and their equipment to retire.

"Big business said to the schools, 'why cook when you can easily use all these frozen, prepared foods?'" Cooper said.

Part of the issue is obviously money – specifically not enough of it. The main challenge for many school districts is to pull together a menu that fits into the budget, while also trying to appeal to hundreds of tiny palettes that have grown up with a diet filled with mostly processed foods. Food that is good for them usually doesn't taste good to them. Unhealthy food is generally cheaper to buy, and contains preservatives, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and partially hydrogenated oils (trans fats) – all the fixings that make things taste especially good to children (and adults as well, for that matter) and keep them coming back for more.

Cooper said that schools are reimbursed $2.30 for every hot lunch served. Two-thirds of that goes toward payroll and overhead, which leaves about $.80 left, which must include the required serving of milk.

"How is it possible to serve a healthy meal to children on less than $.80?" Cooper asks.

"What part of the chicken does the McNugget actually come from anyway?" is a question that was posed in Morgan Spurlock's documentary "Super Size Me." As funny and tongue-in-cheek as it may be, it's a question that most parents should ask with regard to the food that is being served in schools.

A quick call to the food services director at the school can let a parent know what their children are eating and where it's coming from. A school in Kent County, MI is trying to make an effort to offer more healthful choices, such as no fried foods, baked selections, lean meats and more veggies. However, parents should watch out for the HFCS and trans fats that come along with packaged and processed foods. Although a child may walk away with a tray full of baked chicken, a side of green beans, canned peaches, mashed potatoes, and juice, it's probably not as healthy as it looks. There more than likely is butter and salt in the green beans and mashed potatoes, and HFCS and added sugar in the peaches and juice.

So, what can parents do? It may sound extreme, but we might have to go back to the old fashioned way of preparing food. In 1914, a health officer in Florida did an experiment in a rural school to see the results of giving each child a half a pint of milk each day. In addition to the milk, they eventually served a bowl of soup along with the milk.

The results were so outstanding, that according to the USDA Web site: "a group of mothers and the principal planned and carried out the project serving the children a hot bowl of soup with crackers and one-half pint of milk. The meat and some of the potatoes were donated by the mothers. They also furnished the utensils, and the principal supplied the vegetables grown in the school garden."

Obviously, during the early 1900s, all mothers were stay-at-home-moms and could devote a generous portion of their time to a project such as this. They never had to worry about a commute, a full-time job, their children's extra-curricular activities and the chauffeur duties that come along with them. But these are our children, and every effort should be made to ensure them a lifetime of healthy eating habits and the chance to know what real food tastes like.

Cooper said that parents can begin by checking to see if the Wellness Program in their school district is being implemented and followed, and to make sure everyone involved is being held accountable. Don’t be afraid to be vocal at PTA and school board meetings.

"It is everyone's responsibility – not just the schools, and not just the parents – to teach healthy food habits," Cooper said. "Of the children born in 2000, 40 to 45 percent of them will have diabetes and be insulin-dependant. This is the first generation that has a lower life expectancy than that of the previous generation."

Switching to more natural foods will not only improve the physical health of children, it can have benefits on their mental health as well.

"There are people out there, including children, who are helped physically and mentally by eating organic," said Kathleen Wood, a certified clinical nutritionist and employee with Harvest Health Foods. "Kids are realizing they are feeling a whole lot better when they eat the right stuff. They stay away from the bad stuff – it makes such a difference to them."

McIntosh also believes that switching to more natural and organic foods and being more in tune with what one's body can and can't handle can make quite an impact.

She recalled a woman who had come into the store frequently with her seven-year old autistic son, who was unable to speak. She and the woman got to chatting one day and McIntosh suggested that the boy may have a gluten and/or dairy intolerance. The mother cut both out of his diet and came back to the store two weeks later.

"Within two weeks of cutting these foods out of his diet, the little boy started saying Mommy and Daddy. She was ecstatic – it was the first time that she had heard her little boy talk to her," McIntosh said.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

How I've gotten to this point today...

Ah, the school lunch dilemma. My kids, now 2.5 and 15 months, both started going to daycare when they were seven and a half months old. They both made the transition to the toddler room around one year. During this time, big changes were happening to their diets. No more formula (looking back, I regret giving this to them. More on that later); time to start on whole milk (still leary of that); and time for complete grown-up meals at breakfast, lunch and dinner.

This meant that I had the option of packing them a lunch or electing to pay for school lunch. Now, this was back in 2006, way before I had become more knowledgeable in the types of food that my family was eating. I was excited at first to learn that I could pay just over $2 a day for my son to receive a "complete" meal during lunch. The thought of packing a lunch every night was just too exhausting at the time. I was pregnant with my daughter and could barely find the energy to feed myself at dinner.

Over the course of pregnancy with my daughter, I found a Web site called It's a constantly updated site that has tons and tons of information on how to better live and lead a healthier lifestyle. I strongly recommend signing up for the newsletter. It's free and is packed full of useful tips and health-impacting information.

I decided to make a 2008 and beyond New Year's Resolution: pack my kids' lunch instead of opting for the school's hot lunch offering. Since the first day of school in January, I've only elected hot lunch one time and it still annoys me to this day. I just got too lazy and didn't get around to packing it one night after about five rounds of "Time to go to bed!" with both my kids. My husband was out of town and I was ready for some serious couch time. I overslept the next morning and had just enough time to get both the kids and myself dressed and out the door. At school, I had a choice of the pepperoni pizza or baked chicken, with various side dishes. To trick myself into thinking I was taking the 'healthy(er)' route, I opted for the pepperoni pizza and asked that the teacher pick off the pepperoni before serving it to my daughter. My son got the chicken. Never again, I swore to myself!

Over the course of the past five months, I've gotten comments from my kids' teachers about the different foods that I pack in their lunches each day. Comments like "they eat better than I do!" So I decided to start a blog in hope that I can help people out there do the same thing, and to also keep me on my toes, creating healthier meals for my kids. I want my kids to crave veggies and not potato chips! I'm not saying that I'm packing the perfect lunch for them every day, but I'm betting it's better than 90 percent of what other kids are eating. It takes time and planning, but it's one of my top priorities as a parent.

For today's lunch, I packed them:

*Peanut/cashew butter and natural strawberry preserves sandwich on whole grain bread.

Reese gets homemade ground cashew butter because of the peanut allergy issue, and Bodin gets homemade ground peanut butter. They go crazy over this stuff as I'm grinding it, I kid you not!

*One container of Mandarin oranges.

High on the sugar side, but they're packed in their own juices, and contain no hfcs.

*One mozzarella string cheese

I'm still leary of the whole dairy thing. I don't drink cow's milk anymore; instead I opt for rice or almond milk, but usually drink water.

*Organic juice box (usually really watered down) for my son and my daughter gets either water or organic whole milk.

Costco discontinued the brand of juice I was giving to my son every day (Honest Kids) so now I'm looking for an alternative. Ideas, anyone??